|Sony KDL-40Z4100 LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Adrienne Maxwell|
|Saturday, 01 November 2008|
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As I mentioned in the set-up section, the KDL-40Z4100’s black level was only average. With darker Blu-ray and DVD scenes, blacks tended to look gray, especially when compared with my reference Samsung LED-based LCD – which, admittedly, produces some of the best blacks you’re going to find. (By the way, Sony just released its own line of LED-based LCDs, but they do not offer one at the 40-inch screen size.) On a positive note, the KDL-40Z4100 did a solid job of rendering fine black details, and its overall black level was still good enough to produce a pleasing image in a completely dark room. It just didn’t have that extra level of depth and dimension that you see with the finest high-end panels.
The KDL-40Z4100’s viewing angle also fell in the average category – better than many LCDs I’ve seen, but still not as good as a plasma panel. It produced a watchable image at fairly wide angles, but black levels will rise and color saturation will fall if you sit too far to one side or the other.
The TV also exhibited some processing issues with TV content. Its handling of video-based content isn’t as good as its film performance. When watching a tennis match from the U.S. Open in 1080i, I saw jaggies in the diagonals created by the court’s white boundary lines. Also, during SportsCenter on ESPN HD (which was 720p), I noticed that the TV again struggled with text crawls in the sports ticker that ran along the bottom of the screen. Motion Enhancer sometimes slipped out of sync with 480i movies on TV. In general, the Sony didn’t go as good a job cleaning up lesser-quality SDTV signals as the best panels I’ve reviewed.
Although the KDL-40Z4100 costs less than Sony’s XBR models, its $2,199.99 asking price still puts it at the higher end of the price spectrum for a 40-inch 1080p panel. However, this TV delivers the goods in performance, connectivity and features. While its black level could be better, it still offers a very attractive HD image and a nice-looking SD image, with only minimal setup effort required. Sony builds a lot of flexibility into its Motionflow 120Hz technology, which is one of the better examples of the form. Overall, the KDL-40Z4100 is a fine choice for someone who wants an excellent all-purpose display at the 40-inch screen size.